“Nothing’s too small to spark feelings of gratitude.”

Those words are at the heart of a philosophy expressed through a blog by Deborah Hawkins called “No Small Thing.” The longtime writer and workshop leader has written close to 500 posts and now has assembled her favorite 50 into a special collection entitled Best of No Small Thing – Mindful Meditations.

The blog posts describe the small things in Hawkins’ daily life and reflect on their significance. “Of course,” she says, “after a little reflection, I recognize there are no small things.”

Available alongside the collection of blogs is a companion book, Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life, an easy-to-follow guide on cultivating a personally uplifting and empowering gratitude practice.

The self-improvement books are geared to help readers find inner peace and harmony in mind, body and spirit – something Hawkins sought out of necessity during a difficult time in her life.

After a year of unsuccessfully trying to build a new career, she found herself fighting depression and struggling to maintain solvency. In her early fifties, looking for financial help from her family was especially hard. A car accident, caused by an uninsured driver, kept her off her feet for months. She felt cursed.

She began blogging on gratitude in 2010 as a way to focus on positives and elevate her mood. Inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s words, “Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance,” she developed a mindfulness orientation for her own gratitude practice. This practice led her to write in her blog weekly over the last decade.

It’s inspiring – and at times surprising – to read some of the “small things” Hawkins identifies as sparking good feelings and for which she is grateful. “I wrote about the fine distinctions between lemons and limes, which prompted me to contemplate uniqueness in all things. I wrote about how grateful I was that a company where I worked put a box of Kleenex at my cubicle. I wrote about the miracle of good timing based on the experience of just catching a train before its oversized metal doors slid shut. I wrote about feeling delighted that the barista at my local Starbucks actually knew regular customers by name and remembered how they drank their morning brew.”

As readers process the diverse stories and anecdotes of the “No Small Thing” blog, a picture comes into focus, along with an appreciation for the many small things people might be inclined to take for granted. Every blog entry ends with repeating the subject matter within and concluding that it is “no small thing.”

Beyond traditional gratitude journals and lists, Hawkins’ approach focuses on understanding things that sparked gratitude in past experiences and using this understanding to identify similar qualities in new situations. She believes her gratitude practice brings a sense of empowerment and contentment to her life.

For several decades, she notes, studies have supported the idea that gratitude has many positive benefits. It boosts optimism, gives a sense of personal control and even enhances relationships. Keeping a simple gratitude journal, where daily entries are made identifying things that spark gratitude, has become very popular.

In her Practice Gratitude guidebook, Hawkins goes beyond listing little boons to generate good feelings. She teaches techniques for mindfulness, self-inquiry, and writing to build memories that activate strong positive emotions.

This guide and workbook help readers understand what kinds of personal experiences prompt uplifting feelings of gratitude in them, develop broad themes that apply to these experiences, and then use these themes to see and experience gratitude in new situations.

Hawkins encourages readers to develop their own personal list of things for which they are grateful. She shares her own “Grateful Dozen:”

1. Belonging/connection
2. Free/bargains/upgrades/winning/luck
3. Something new
4. Fresh eyes/tourist mind
5. Noticing small things
6. Beauty
7. Neighborhood discoveries
8. People who touch me
9. Self-appreciation
10. Musings and imaginings
11. What’s so funny? Things that make me laugh
12. Surprise

“I’m not sure when I first realized just how powerful feelings of gratitude are,” Hawkins writes. “It has been clear to me for some time though that, at the very least, coaxing the inner smile of gratitude out of my heart always makes me feel better.”

“So often, it seems that once my heart opens up to appreciate an experience, it is like waking up my consciousness to be delighted by other things that are already in my world.”

“I started this blog as I was coming out of some difficult personal challenges. I wanted to give more attention to positives in my life and, by doing so, take more control over my emotions and my outlook.”

If you are looking to do the same, check out The Best of No Small Thing – Mindful Meditations and Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life, both of which will soon be available for purchase.

Learn more about Deborah on her Author Profile page.

 

About Deborah Hawkins

In 2008, Deborah Hawkins was fighting depression and struggling to maintain solvency. In her early fifties, looking for financial help from her family was especially hard.  A car accident, caused by an uninsured driver, kept her off her feet for months.  She felt cursed.

She began blogging on gratitude in 2010 as a way to focus on positives and elevate her mood. Inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s words, “Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance,” she developed a mindfulness orientation for her own practice which led her to post weekly over the last decade, totaling around 500 posts.

Deborah’s approach focuses on understanding things that sparked gratitude in past experiences and to identify similar qualities in new situations.  She attributes her gratitude practice with bringing a sense of empowerment and contentment to her life.

Deborah has a BA from Knox College and lives in Chicago. Find out more about Deborah at her website.